Each one should use whatever spiritual gift he has received to serve others. . .
1 Peter 4:10
When we talk about spiritual gifts, we can easily get the wrong impression. The emphasis seems to be on the word “spiritual” – distinguishing it from “normal” gifts, such as being a talented musician or mechanic.
Surprisingly, the Greek word for “spiritual” is not even present in the term. Instead, if you translate it literally, it comes out like “grace gift.” The emphasis is not that the gift is “spiritual” or “miraculous,” but that it is a gift of God’s grace to us.
When God gives us grace, he is giving us something we haven’t earned. We don’t get it because we deserve it. It’s just a gift. When God washes us clean from our sin, it’s a gift. When he promises us eternal joy in heaven, it’s a gift.
As Jesus gave his life in sacrifice to us, he wants us to know the same kind of life. Whatever talent we have is a gift of grace, which we are not to use to promote our own glory, but to serve other people.
Using your talents to serve others doesn’t sound especially fun – at least not when you compare it to receiving admiration and becoming the focus of attention. But once you get the hang of what it really means to help others, there is no comparison.
Father and son, Frank and John Schaeffer, wrote a book, Keeping Faith. Marine recruit John Schaeffer explains how, if you drop out of training for medical reasons, you are put in another platoon and pick up where you left off. But no one wants to leave their platoon. They have suffered so much together. They are a band of brothers.
Schaeffer writes about Recruit Parks. Parks was a small, skinny kid from New York. He developed double pneumonia just before the final, tortuous test to becoming a Marine called “The Crucible.” Their Senior Drill Instructor, Staff Sergeant Marshal told the platoon: “Parks is going to finish with us if I have to carry him in my pack!”
The night before the Crucible, unbeknownst to the Drill Instructors, a few of the stronger recruits took out the heavier items in Park’s pack and put them in their own.
For the 2 ½ day Crucible, they marched 54 miles with all their equipment. They only slept four hours a night and received only two meals for the entire ordeal.
Each squad had to pretend one of their men was wounded and drag and carry him through combat conditions. Park’s squad designated him as “wounded” and carried him. They put recruits on each side of him on the ropes course.
As they stood at attention and saluted the flag at end of the Crucible, Parks stood with them, weak and pale. He received his “Stars and Bars” – becoming a Marine with his platoon. Tears streamed down the cheeks of his comrades. They carried each others burdens. And no one was left behind.
Ask those Marines if it’s worth it to use your strengths to help your brother.
(copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)